El Paso County: Cherokee Metropolitan District president ousted in recall election

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jakob Rodgers):

Voters in the Cherokee Metropolitan District decisively ousted their leader Tuesday, ending a long and combative recall effort to kick water board president Robert Lovato from the post he has held for six years. An overwhelming 82 percent of 1,613 people who cast ballots in the beleaguered water district voted to recall Lovato. About 15 percent of the nearly 11,000 registered voters in the district cast ballots in the election…

In dismissing Lovato, residents in the district elected Larry Keleher, a retired Colorado Springs firefighter, to join a board made infamous for its bickering and lack of progress in finding a cheap, sustainable source of water. No one else ran for the position.

Residents in the district have endured steep rate hikes since the board took poor legal advice and illegally used water from the Upper Black Squirrel Basin. The cascade of water rate increases in recent years were needed to pay for mounting legal fees and the high cost of purchasing water.

While short on specific ideas to help the parched water district, Keleher said he wants to “bring back the respect and bring back the trust of the people.”

More Cherokee Metropolitan District coverage here and here.

Western Governors Association meeting recap

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From the Associated Press (Cristina Silva) via The San Francisco Chronicle:

Governors from across the West sparred over water and how to make sure everyone is getting their fair share Tuesday during a policy conference designed to drive consensus. Federal experts urged state leaders to weigh water needs over water wants, while state leaders pleaded for less federal oversight and new flexibility on water agreements that detail how much water states get from a limited pool of resources…

The discussion opened the Western Governors Association’s two-day conference in Las Vegas. Governors from 19 states, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands were invited. Water conservation and efficiency remained favorite solutions among government leaders eager to lap up the most use from fresh water sources.

Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter said Colorado is exploring agreements that allow farmers to lease excess water to governments. “A little bit of conservation goes a really long way,” he said…

Despite the common goals, the policy conference at times exposed tensions between federal water officials and state leaders. “I look forward to your assistance, but not too much of it,” Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, deadpanned to [Anne Castle, assistant secretary for Water and Science at the U.S. Department of the Interior] at one point…

“It seems we are nibbling away just at the edge of the antiquated laws that we created along the river that we always have to struggle around because we are so afraid to deal with the politics of the river,” said [Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons], a Republican. “Why is it if we can change the culture of the people in how they use water, we cannot change the culture of how we think about the rational basis of how we allocate water? For example, if Wyoming doesn’t use all of its allocation … can we not utilize that by wheeling it down the river for some other better use of that water?”

Long range Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District plan update

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“This is going to be a marathon in the future,” Manager Jessie Shaffer said Tuesday. “Our goal is to get a renewable water supply for all of our customers.”

Woodmoor is committed to spending as much as $138 million over 12 years. The district began preparing for its drier future five years ago, and has no intention of pulling out.

Woodmoor has met opposition to its plan from more than 20 objectors in Water Court, including outspoken criticism from the Pueblo Board of Water Works that its plan is speculative and potentially harmful to other water rights. “Our attorney has been talking with their attorneys,” Shaffer said…

Shaffer brushed aside questions about whether water used in Woodmoor would cross the Palmer Divide into the South Platte River basin. He has said in the past that return flows from the Woodmoor system ultimately flow down Monument Creek, which joins with Fountain Creek at Colorado Springs…

The plan calls for exchanges to a reservoir south of Fountain, where it could be piped about 35 miles north through a 16-inch pipeline for use in Woodmoor with an elevation gain of roughly 1,500 feet, according to an engineering report produced as part of the court case. Woodmoor plans to develop its own reservoir at Stonewall Springs, near the Pueblo Chemical Depot, as part of the exchange system…

Shaffer could not say when the project would become critical for Woodmoor’s future water needs, citing the general plan that is posted on the district’s website when asked about the need for new supply. “The Denver Basin aquifers are in decline, and it’s a finite resource. At some point they become less reliable,” he said. “The board has decided to move forward on a renewable supply.”

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

Pueblo County sends letter to Senator Udall requesting a seat at the table with regard to new storage legislation

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

In a letter sent this week, commissioners asked Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., to include the county and other community leaders in the Arkansas Valley in any discussions about new water storage legislation. “You reportedly have been meeting with water users in their effort to reintroduce legislation for the Preferred Storage Options Plan at Pueblo Reservoir,” the letter from commissioners stated. “We ask that you coordinate not only with water users but with this board and other county commissioners and community leaders in the Arkansas Valley.”

Udall replied that he will not move forward without consensus from all members of the Colorado congressional delegation, as well as the agreement of all stakeholders. “I would never move forward with any legislation until reaching out to the parties to the litigation, my colleagues in the congressional delegation, and all parties concerned and ensuring that there was public input from all groups and communities that would be directly affected,” Udall said Tuesday…

The PSOP bill primarily looks at a feasibility study for enlargement of Lake Pueblo and Turquoise Lake, which is located near Leadville. It is inextricably tied to a series of intergovernmental agreements and further discussions that were conducted by former U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar that broke down in 2007 when the Lower Ark filed its lawsuit.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here and here. More Preferred Options Storage Plan coverage here and here.

Trout Unlimited and the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District agree to settle Dry Gulch lawsuit and have worked out the terms for a proposed decree

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Here’s Part Three of Bill Hudson’s series titled Dry Gulch gets a little drier running in the Pagosa Daily Post. From the article:

The number that will stick in people’s minds, no doubt, is 11,000. That’s the maximum number of acre-feet allowed to be stored in a future Dry Gulch Reservoir, under this agreement — when combining an existing 6,300 acre-foot SJWCD storage right with a new 4,700 acre-foot storage right.

More Dry Gulch Reservoir coverage here and here.